Monday, August 13, 2007

Merv Griffin - I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts

With The Freddy Martin Band. Griffin's hit of 1950, composed in 1944 by Fred Heatherton, an English songwriter, celebrating the traditional coconut shy of funfairs. For non-British readers, a "funfair" is the English equivalent of a traveling carnival and "coconut shy" is a game of throwing wooden balls at a row of coconuts balanced on posts.

The song was originally sung and a hit for Danny Kaye during the same year.

I spent many an afternoon after school watching The Merv Griffin Show and Griffin regulars such as Arthur Treacher, Jack Sheldon, and perennial audience member, Mrs. Miller. Although usually considered an also-ran against the Carson Tonight Show juggernaut, I'm pretty sure my first exposure to such powerhouse comedians as Dick Gregory, Richard Pryor, and George Carlin was through The Merv Griffin Show. Apropos of nothing except that every one of her appearances stuck in my memory, I also first saw "Moms" Mabley on the Griffin show, pretty much at the nadir of her career by that time, later learning that she at one time had been one of the most successful entertainers of the black vaudeville circuit, earning $10,000 a week at Harlem's Apollo Theater at the height of her career.

I also remember the infamous Abbie Hoffman appearance in April 1970, where censors blacked/blurred out Hoffman's torso, so viewers couldn't see the American Flag shirt Hoffman wore. Interestingly, a thread here indicates that the original tape of that appearance was either, lost, stolen, or purposedly destroyed.

Griffin died this Sunday at age 82.

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